I am probably not all that different from many of you, I work in a technical occupation (where I tend to wait on progress indicators a lot), and came back to woodworking some 20 odd years after my last high school wood shop class. The only projects that were done in the interim could best be described as ROUGH carpentry with a circular saw, and cheesy jig saw.
I am also probably very similar in the reasons why I did not indulge woodworking for so many years was a, well let’s be charitable here and say that I was in a less than optimal domestic situation that had been corrected shortly before I dove back in head first more or less.
I ended up with a house, a destructive roomate, and his crazy dog. By the time the roomate and the dog were gone, there were LOTS of repair projects to get underway, and after earlier experiences with contractors I really was not interested in paying too much to get horrid quality workmanship. And something in my brain flashed back, back before lawyers, before ministers, before professors, and bosses, back to a time when the Mullet was considered a good thing, and Daisy Duke was a character on a TV show and not a description of short shorts…
My brain headed straight back, with the help of a pencil box, a skateboard, and an old toolbox, to Mr. Reed’s wood shop class back in Oregon in the mid 1980s. As I held the pencil box I made so many years ago I could recall the feeling of accomplishment, as I buffed the last coat of wax on the thing and turned it in for my grade. I could recall the project and how it felt to take basically junk lumber, and turn it into something useful. I recalled building a hallway coat tree for my parents, and all the good times I had out in the forests with my late uncle cutting and loading up wood for either lumber, or firewood.
It was there, but unlike riding a bicycle, my hands just didn’t quite remember what to do… So off to digging around, and tinkering, a few small projects here and there, and a few more and off I go to start gathering the tools and equipment to stuff in the garage to make a workshop.
I am now at the point where I am building a good many shop porjects, and using those to hone needed skills to actually build stuff for my home and family again. And have actually gotten a couple of those projects done. A pine stool to help my lovely 5’ bride into our oversized pillow topped bed, several toy race cars for a 5th birthday present for a child that would have been my God son (things got funny with the prior domestic situation remember?), a Kitty Condo for the real owner of the house, stripping and refinishing the kitchen cabinets etc…
I did a stupid thing too, I got involved with turning. This while thing is like an addiction, but turning is probably the worst of it. I will chuck up just about any old hunk of wood on the lathe to see what is in there. It’s the crack cocaine of woodworking I swear!
As I go through my projects I build more skills, and end up with useful stuff, but far more importantly, I relieve stress, and to steal some psycho babble, I think I found a “happy place” to hang out. I am nowhere near the skill level of so many of you guys and gals, but I am learning, and improving. And let’s face it, many of you set the bar on skill and quality insanely high, and without divine gifting, I can only hope of approaching the quality of work I see in many of your projects after years of hard work and dedication. Funny I should call it work, because I do this as a change of pace from my day to day work. What a strange world to live in huh?
-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com